Due to the high price of potatoes in the market, stockists are releasing seed potatoes from cold stores to sell them as food potatoes in the hope of higher profits. And since the season of potato cultivation has started, the farmers of the northern districts of the country including Rajshahi are facing shortage of seed potatoes. For the past one week, farmers have been busy preparing land in the northern fields. Many have started planting seeds on higher ground. However, due to seed shortage, many farmers are worried about whether they will be able to plant potatoes this season.
It is known that the amount of potato seed supply that has been taken by the government from BADC to the main potato districts of the northern region is insufficient compared to the demand. According to BADC’s Divisional Seed Marketing Office, only 125 tonnes of seed potatoes have been allocated in the entire northern region. This allocation is very insignificant compared to the demand. Many farmers feel that they cannot get low price government seeds as they are sold through government seed dealers.
Meanwhile, amid the seed potato crisis, farmers are turning to unreliable and uncertified potato seeds from various commercial companies. Potato seeds from commercial companies are also very expensive. Hence, farmers are forced to order seeds from different companies. Farmers say that the cost of potato cultivation this season will be one and a half to two times higher than last year. If they do not get a suitable price in the market after producing potatoes at a high cost, they will be in trouble. According to the sources of Rajshahi Region Agriculture Extension Directorate, Rajshahi, Bogra and Rangpur districts in the northern part of the country produce the most potatoes. In the current season, the target of potato cultivation in 16 districts of the northern region has been set at 3 lakh 65 thousand hectares. As the market price of potato is high at present, farmers have started preparations for potato cultivation in more land. In this season, the target of 98 lakh 55 thousand tons of potato production has been set as a yield of 27 tons per hectare in 16 districts of the northern region.
It is known that since November, the farmers of the north including Rajshahi have started intensive preparations for potato cultivation. Land preparation work is going on in the field. According to the instructions of the agriculture department, potato cultivation will continue till December 15. Many farmers will cut down paddy and plant potatoes on that land. Farmers quickly cut the paddy and prepared the land for potato cultivation. The potato field has been prepared by soaking the land with fertilizers and irrigation. Now they will plant the seeds in it. Many people are protesting in front of Rajshahi cold stores to collect seed potatoes.
Related sources also said that the hoarders are taking out the seed potatoes from the freezer and releasing them in the market as edible potatoes. As a result, the price of seed potatoes has increased slightly. In Rajshahi, the price of one kg seed potato has increased from Tk 55 to Tk 60. Last year they bought a kg of seed potatoes for Tk 25 to Tk 30. Enayet Hossain Mollah, a potato farmer of Hat Ramchandrapur village of Rajshahi’s Parila Union, said that last year he bought potato seeds for Tk 25 to Tk 30 per kg. Last year, 720 kg of potato seeds were planted in one acre of land and the cost of buying the seeds alone was 2 thousand 160 taka. Fertilizer, irrigation land, land rent and labor cost for one bigha of potato plantation was 25 to 30 thousand Tk. But this time the situation is completely different. 45,000 to 50,000 rupees are being spent on one breakdown. This cost is higher depending on the area.
In addition to farmer Enayet Mollah, potato farmers Naziruddin Sheikh and Fazle Hossain said that 240 kg of seeds are needed for each crop. This quantity varies slightly if the size of the seed potatoes is small or large. But this time we have to buy seed potatoes at 70 taka per kg. As a result, it costs 4 thousand to 4 thousand 200 taka to buy potato seeds. Including all other expenses, the cost of potato plantation is 45 to 50 thousand rupees during the rainy season. Farmers also said that the cost of fertilizer and irrigation has also increased year by year. Labor costs have increased. As the market price of potato is high this year, many farmers are showing interest in potato cultivation.
Additional Director of Agriculture Extension Department, agriculturist Shamchul Wadud said on Tuesday, Rajshahi, Bogra and Rangpur regions are the main potato areas in the northern region, including Rajshahi. Preparations for planting potatoes in these areas have started well. There is no news of seed shortage anywhere. However, although the price of potatoes in the market is a bit high, there is no shortage of potatoes in the cold storages. There are enough seed potatoes that northern farmers will not have a problem with their planting needs.